For Marketing: Dump The “We” Questions; Ask About “Them”

Marketing must be customer-centered

For questions of marketing strategy, the answers usually begin with the customer.

But what if you’re asking the wrong questions?

Sometimes we’re forced to focus like a laser – on our own problems, objectives and processes. It’s understandable. But it can turn our point of view inward, when we should be focused on the customer.

Here are some inward-looking “we” questions that can lead to the wrong answers, followed by the kinds of questions – about “them,” the customers – that businesses ought to be asking.

“How can we improve sales?”

Do you have satisfied customers who are willing to endorse you? If not, why? 

Who exactly are your customers? Are they aware of you? If not, where do they go for information? If they are aware, how do they feel about you? How and where do they like to buy? Why do they decide to buy from others, or not to buy at all? If you sell to businesses, what’s their buying process and who is involved? 

“How can we get more traffic on our website?”

How does your website serve customers at different levels of the sales funnel or process?

What information do these customers seek? What customer problems does your content address? You may be able to learn by keyword research, social media monitoring or using A/B testing on landing pages. Or talking with actual customers.

Do your top-level messages focus on benefits to your customers – results they can expect – or do they focus on your product’s features and how it works? (Results are more persuasive than parts or processes.)

“How can we beat our competitors?”

How do your customers feel about your competitors – what’s their relationship like? How can you build a better relationship with your customers than your competitors?

“How can we get a meeting with the decision maker?”

What big problems does he or she face? What are you doing to solve those problems? What information or experience do you have regarding those problems? And how are you presenting it?

“What would make our product really stand out?”

What value do you provide that makes a difference to your customers? Can you demonstrate that value with numbers?  With case studies?

“How should we design our trade show booth?”

How can you determine what your customers need to make their trade show visit a success?  What will make you stand out from the others in your customers’ eyes?

Are you communicating with your customers before the trade show? After?

“How can we use social media?”

Where do your customers congregate on social media? How do your find and join their communities? How can you make yourself a trusted and valued member of those communities? How can you create relationships, instead of just talking about yourself? 

“How can we hire better people?”

What kind of relationship do you have with your customers? What can you do to improve satisfaction among your existing customers? (Good people don’t want to work with unhappy customers.)

“What should our sales brochures say?”

How can you make your sales material strike a chord with your customers? Are your sales brochures all about you, or do they focus on the benefits your customers are looking for?

“How should we talk about our company?”

How can you put your customers’ needs and concerns at the center of your company’s story and purpose? 

* * *

Marketing works best when it focuses on customers and their problems.

It seems self evident. But it’s easy to get off track. Do you agree? How do you keep your business focus where it belongs – on your customers?




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11 thoughts on “For Marketing: Dump The “We” Questions; Ask About “Them”

  1. I see a lot of push marketing online and in sales w/ little or no effort being given to what the customer truly wants; only what you want to give them.

    Not only ask questions, but good questions; find out what their challenges are and see how it fits in the mix with the resources you have at your disposal.
    Bill Dorman recently posted..If you were in my shoes….

    • So true, Bill. I’d even go further. Don’t just see if it fits, but figure out how the answers can help you innovate, change and grow. More later…

      (added later…) Businesses that fall into the “we” trap are not just the ones who create pushy, even abusive messages designed to bully you into buying. It’s well meaning business people who have good products and services, but have never had to try. (Maybe someone else provide co-op marketing programs.) Or it’s startups that have come up with a nifty idea, but they really don’t know the market in an intimate way. A lot of entrepreneurs know their craft, but know the needs and feelings of their natural market.

      barrett recently posted..I Need Some WordPress Advice

  2. Interesting questions sir. Most, if not all of these, I see as great ways to work on your existing customer base. Push has never been the best way to deal with people in the consulting world (mine).

    Once we feel all these approaches are in place maybe we also need to ask ourselves how we can ask our customer base to recommend us to their network as a way to grow business. Not sure if you’ve had a chance to peruse “The Ultimate Question 2.0” or not. Something that asks some pointed questions about your relationships with your customers and whether they would actually recommend you and if not how to change that.

    I have not put this into practice but the notion of a happy customer over one that feels slighted is kind of obvious. That I have put into practice and it works.
    Ralph recently posted..Read This Stuff: Does September remind you of renewal too?

    • Ralph, I have not read “The Ultimate Question 2.0” – I’ll put it on the list. I’m very interested in the Net Promoter idea. Haven’t had the chance to use it for a client but it makes great sense. Especially after having done jobs for companies whose clients just couldn’t wait to get out of their contracts!

      I recently read a book based on a similar idea: The B2B Executive Playbook by Sean Geehan. He puts customer satisfaction, willingness to endorse you and help you develop new business at the core of a business strategy. I find this whole line of thinking pretty exciting.
      barrett recently posted..I Need Some WordPress Advice

  3. If it’s not the customer, then who? That’s what so many companies don’t seem to get and the bigger, they just seem in service of the organization, self-serving all those wasted layers of structure. Anyone, anyone – employee, vendor, client, customer – has one question: WIIFM? Share what’s in it for them, work to be better for you by being better for them, then you’ve got something. FWIW.
    Davina K. Brewer recently posted..DIY. At Your Own Risk.

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